Club Bowling Revives Women’s Squad
For the first time in a decade, OC Thunder, Oberlin’s intercollegiate bowling team, fielded a women’s team. The group is brimming with enthusiasm and happy to be reviving an old Oberlin tradition.
“It was incredible to compete for the first OC Thunder women’s bowling team since 2007,” first-year Sophie Maffie said in an email to the Review. “Our team is full of enthusiasm, support, and generosity … I am glad that we finally got out on the lanes and made our debut. I cannot wait to spend the next three years surrounded by these amazing bowlers and friends. I am excited for the future of our team, especially since we are growing in size and support.”
The OC Thunder needed five female bowlers for a women’s team, and this year they were able to recruit seven.
Both the men’s and women’s teams are full of youth, and five of seven women bowlers are first-years. Bowling season runs all the way from October to April, and on Feb. 18, the teams traveled to Kent State University to compete in the Black Squirrel Open.
Tom Reid, OC ’80, head coach of the OC Thunder, said he is particularly excited to have enough women bowlers for an entire squad.
“For me, the thrilling thing about the Black Squirrel Open at Kent State was the re-emergence of the Oberlin women’s team,” Reid said.
There were some growing pains for both the men’s and women’s teams, as the young rosters placed 11th and 12th respectively out of the 12 teams represented. The men, who tallied a total of 5932 pins, were able to stay competitive for the duration of the event. The women, who featured several bowlers in their debut performance, saw players still getting comfortable in the Kent State lanes, and finished with a total of 4494 pins knocked down.
Senior bowler Matthew Russell, who placed 44th out of 70 in the individual standings, was pleased with his team’s performance and chemistry.
“I love going to tournaments,” Matt said. “I love when we get to bowl and be competitive, but also be a team. We really like each other so we really like these kinds of tournaments.”
The OC Thunder had five bowlers in the top 45, including both women’s captains, seniors Maggie Gossiaux, with 642 pins, and Savannah O’Meara, with 590 pins.
Senior men’s team captain Juan-Manuel Pinzon knocked down 645 to finish in 35th place and helped lift the squad into 11th place.
“I had a lot of fun,” said Pinzon. “Of course, I always think we can do better, but I am proud of our performance and of our newer bowlers. I look forward to future tournaments with them.”
The team, which invites students of all levels of experience to practice and play with them, has remained a space for bowlers to compete for decades. Pinzon, who has been on the team for three years, said he looks back on his time with the OC Thunder fondly.
“It’s been terrific! I never really bowled before fall of my sophomore year — so I’ve been bowling for about a year and a half now,” Pinzon said. “Tom is a great coach and I have learned a lot from him. I am also very excited that the team has grown so much over the last year. … We have a great community over at the lanes and I’m very grateful to be a part of it.”
Reid, who offers Bowling 101 to introduce students to the sport, has introduced hundreds of bowlers to the world of competitive college bowling. He has been developing Oberlin’s bowling culture since his graduation in 1980 and has helmed the club team for nearly 70 semesters on campus.
Russell said Reid’s guidance and the bowling community have been a huge part of his life at Oberlin.
“I think it’s been hugely important for me in terms of meeting new people and getting involved in a sport I know I’m going to stay with for the rest of my life.”
The Thunder will close its season with the OC Unconventional Bowling Tournament, which takes place at Oberlin’s college lanes April 8.